This incubator of plague and sower of dissent is my daughter. I love her with all my heart, but motherhood isn’t easy, no matter how cute the child appears. Sure, plenty of people do tell me she’s cute – “So cute!” “How adorable!” “I just love her.” “She’s no trouble at all.” To the outside world, what you see is what you get.
But we know the truth about our children. We know no amount of dreamy, Instagram-filtered photos can convince us otherwise. Our children are tiny monsters of varying degrees, with superpowers we never knew existed until they were born.
In her first 6 years, my daughter:
- Informed me that she thinks I hate her and wish I never had her (this is because we grounded her for sneaking outside with her unwanted dinner and trying to throw it in our trash can to fool us into thinking she’d eaten);
- Had various colds and hand, foot and mouth disease (something I, as a city-bred New Englander, thought only hoofed animals contracted);
- Managed to make up fantastic stories to explain mundane things, like how a Raggedy Ann doll got all the way up on top of a bookshelf (according to her, our smallest parrot found a way out of his cage, picked up the doll, and flew it up there; another time, she informed me that a monkey farted on her finger, causing her pain… what?).
When my husband and I fight, it’s only about one thing: how to parent our daughter. While my daughter is rolling in mud, organizing her spiders to worship their queen, and plotting how to hide the evidence that she didn’t eat her broccoli, my 17-year-old son is calmly ambivalent about his sexuality, strumming a guitar, and going with friends to Taco Bell.
I never had these challenges with my son. I am one of the moms who was duped into thinking, “Wow, the first child is so easy, the second will be a breeze!” Why, why, why did I think that?
Here’s something else I’m also guilty of thinking: that other kids suck. When I see a child screaming in a grocery store or a mother with 5 kids clinging to her, I look at my daughter and say, “I’m so grateful for you.”
But I think most moms don’t actually suck at parenting. I think most of us are doing the best we can, and most of us only see what others allow us to see. I think we all make our parenting choices and hope for the best. And, honestly, we need to let it be that way.
So next time your child is organizing a household mutiny or you suspect them of seditious intentions, don’t despair. I’m pretty sure you aren’t alone.